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An exclusive story in the LA Times today says that P. Diddy, aka Puff Daddy, aka Sean "Puffy" Combs, the hip hop superstar and head of Bad Boy Records, knew in advance about a 1994 ambush in which rap icon Tupac Shakur was shot five times and robbed in a New York recording studio. According to the story, a promoter and talent manager who were friendly with Puffy set up Tupac because they were angry about his insolent posture towards NYC and its hip hop heavyweights. The key facts:

The Times obtained FBI records that say the attack was masterminded by manager James "Jimmy Henchman" Rosemond and promoter James Sabatino. Rosemond was a thug-turned-music businessman, and Sabatino was a young promoter whose father was in the mob. They offered Tupac $7,000 to record a track at the studio—where Puffy and dozens of Bad Boy associates were also recording that night—and then hired some guys from Brooklyn to beat and rob Tupac. He pulled a gun, and ended up getting shot, but surviving.

On Nov. 29, 1994, two dozen Bad Boy executives and associates gathered on the 10th floor of the Quad to record songs for a debut album by Junior M.A.F.I.A., a group formed by the Notorious B.I.G., Bad Boy's leading artist.

On hand were Combs, B.I.G., Rosemond, Agnant and Sabatino. Also present, among others, were rapper James "Lil' Cease" Lloyd and music executive Andre Harrell.

Rosemond had booked an adjacent studio to produce a recording by rapper Little Shawn, whose career he managed. This was the session at which Shakur was to be paid $7,000 for a guest vocal.

In fact, Rosemond never intended to record the session, according to the FBI informant and the other sources.

He had enlisted a trio of his friends from Brooklyn to ambush Shakur in the lobby of the Quad, the sources said.

Agnant and Sabatino helped plan the attack, working out the timing, arranging for the three assailants to be driven to the studio and mapping out their escape route, according to the informant and the other sources. Sabatino informed Combs and Wallace in advance that a trap had been laid for Shakur, the sources said...

The FBI informant said the shots were audible in the 10th-floor studio. "Sabatino, Rosemond and Combs did not seem concerned about this," the informant told the FBI, though others in the studio "were very upset."

The Times contacted the three guys who sources told them did the crime, all of whom are in prison on unrelated charges. One denied it; "one of the men said that Rosemond orchestrated the ambush. Another was cryptic. He wrote that the statute of limitations for the assault had expired, and he offered to produce, for an unspecified fee, the medallion stolen from Shakur."

Puffy declined to comment. Tupac was murdered in September of 1996; Biggie Smalls, Puffy's greatest rapper, was murdered the following March. Puffy is now a mainstream star; needless to say, this could further complicate his already complicated image.